On September 4, 2012, four generations of Lonergans came together to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the start of their family in America.
Michael Lonergan of Rosegreen, Co. Tipperary, sailed from Queenstown on the ship Carmania, and arrived at Ellis Island on September 4, 1912. Unbeknownst to Michael at the time, Mary McCarthy, of Milford, Co. Cork, had arrived at Ellis Island a year earlier, on April 10, 1911.
Michael would later meet Mary McCarthy at a grocery store in the Bronx and, as the saying goes, the rest was history. Michael Lonergan would marry Mary McCarthy on December 16, 1917, and the start of the Lonergan family in America was born.
Michael and Mary Lonergan had five children, all born and raised in the Bronx: Michael, James, George, John (Jack), and Elizabeth. As a way to provide for his young family, Michael Lonergan joined the FDNY, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant.
The fire department presented a steady paycheck during the Depression, and Michael was able to buy his home at auction, and then acquired 4 adjacent lots. As Michael’s family got older and started families of their own, homes were built on those same lots and the family stayed together.
The tradition of civil service would continue to the next generation with sons Michael and John joining the NYPD. Michael would eventually rise to the rank of chief of police of the NYPD, and four of his children would also serve on the NYPD, with the fifth joining the FDNY.
The Lonergan celebration was held at the Red Wood Club in the Bronx, exactly 100 years to the day of Michael’s arrival at Ellis Island. Four generations of Lonergans were in attendance, and the celebration included a fire boat salute for Michael Lonergan, as well as an appearance by the New York City Transit Bagpipe Band. Each branch of the family was acknowledged by a reading of the family’s census.
Michael Lonergan instilled a strong work ethic in his family that is still alive today, but more importantly he led by example that family always comes first. He’d be happy to see that message has not been lost on any of us.